What it’s like as a tech lady

Sometimes men in tech and women outside of tech ask me what it’s like as a woman engineer. It’s hard to say – I’ve been in industry since before I was an adult, so I really don’t have a lot to compare it to. However, I saw this video a few months ago and it was a revelation. “Hello m’lady” illustrates what it’s like as a woman when a seemingly nice guy refuses to get a clue that you don’t want to be in a relationship. And not in a physically threatening way – just in an annoying pathetic way. THAT IS WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A WOMAN IN TECH. I mean, it’s not ALL of what it’s like, but it’s SO common and relentless. Throughout my twenties, before I had an obvious partner-now-husband (who worked in my office, btw), I dealt with this stuff every day. Every woman I’ve met in tech has had to deal with this at some point.

Why is it like this for women in tech? Put relatively few women in a room with many socially awkward men. Presto! Hello m’ladies abound. I wish I had known this was a common thing and not just me. I really did feel guilty all the time for the relentless unwanted attention, even though in retrospect it was completely not my fault. Given that Amy Schumer made this, it looks like plenty of non-tech women deal with this too, so it’s at least heartening to know we’re not alone.

I’m not unsympathetic to the perpetrators – they think they’re being nice and can’t understand why women don’t respond to their passive aggressive overtures. But they fail to recognize, whatever their intentions, that their behaviour is unwanted. To presume the right to behave this way is straight up entitlement. These gentlemen would be better served to take no for an answer and move on.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed and the PyCon 2013 Incident

Women in tech, as a topic, has been popping up in the media I consume more regularly these days. In most cases, the observations are from third parties and almost universally frustrating to observe as a first party woman in tech. Case in point is Jon Ronson’s take on the PyCon 2013 sexism incident, which is included in his recently released book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. In his book, Ronson examines the rising phenomenon of large-scale public shaming via social media, the primary example of which is the Justine Sacco incident wherein Sacco makes a tasteless tweet about her susceptibility to AIDS on her upcoming trip to Africa. While I’m ambivalent to Ronson’s commentary on the Sacco incident, I think he goes off the rails with his interpretation of the PyCon incident and completely overlooks the resulting positive shifts in tech towards supporting women and diversity in general.

To refresh: During PyCon 2013, a technology consultant (Adria Richards) tweeted about two men behind her during a conference session who were making juvenile and sexist jokes. Ultimately, both Richards and one of the men making the jokes [Details]. Ronson reframes the issue with a highly contested recounting of events and equates Richards’ tweet with Sacco’s thoughtless attempt at an Africa AIDS joke.

To me, Ronson’s assessment is completely tone deaf to the struggles of women in tech and the tremendous positive impact Richards’ brave actions have had on women in tech since the PyCon 2013 incident. Even more galling was that in that same podcast Ronson acknowledges the importance of public shaming for movements like #blacklivesmatter, where long-standing practices of police brutality towards African Americans are finally being regularly covered in mainstream media.

To me, the PyCon 2013 incident is much closer to the #blacklivesmatter movement than to Sacco’s shitty joke. While women in tech are not being murdered (though Richards’ has received death threats following PyCon 2013), we are being discouraged from and pushed out of an industry that, when it’s good, is both professionally fulfilling and economically empowering. Anecdotally, I have felt a positive shift in the tech industry towards women following PyCon 2013. There is also data to back this up. Consider the Google Trends results for “women in tech”:

Google Trends - %22women in tech%22

Google Trends Graph for “women in tech”

PyCon 2013 was in March 2013, which coincides with roughly double the interest in “women in tech” as observed through Google search requests. While that spike was temporary, the rate of interest in the topic has increased at a faster rate than pre-PyCon 2013. Last month, searches for “women in tech” essentially matched those of May 2013, though that peak is no longer an anomaly in the overall trend for the topic.

The Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) for Women in Computer Science – the largest conference for women in tech, almost doubled in attendance following the PyCon 2013 incident (2014 was the first GHC organized following PyCon 2013):

GHC Participation 1994 - 2014

 Source: GHC 2014 Impact Report

In addition to increased capacity, GHC 2014 had much more visible male participation from the mainstream, including the first-ever male keynote presented by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Nadella’s keynote contained some of his own tone deafness, but the response and engagement that resulted emphasized a real shift in our industry to acknowledge and address the challenges faced by women in tech.

I have also witnessed progress within Google, much of which isn’t publicly shareable, though the releasing of diversity stats has been a good step forward. The fight for women in tech and diversity in general at Google continues to be an uphill struggle, but I have felt the conversation switching from “is this really an issue?” to “how do we fix this?”. Which is why Ronson’s perspective is such a regression – he takes the conversation from “how to fix this?” all the way back to “is it polite to complain about the struggles of women in tech?”.

Polite or not, Adria Richards sounded an alarm that has been heard by and industry that has a deserved reputation for tone deafness to diversity. If tech can get it together to ask the right questions, I certainly hope Ronson can catch up as well.

The Wage Gap: Pt. 1

The pay gap between men and women in America and beyond is widely recognized, but poorly understood. I count myself among those who don’t really know what the reported stats – or at least I did until I started looking into the data. CBS News reported that “(a)ccording to the Census Bureau, for every dollar a man makes, a woman earns just 78 cents for doing the same job.” [1]. Turns out that’s both incorrect and insufficiently alarmist.

First: “just 78 cents for doing the same job” – that’s completely wrong. That statistic comes from a comparison of the median income across all women vs. the median income across all men.[2] There’s no telling which job that represents for each gender – it includes CEOs, truck drivers, accountants… everyone. But it most certainly isn’t representative of any wage gap between men and women in a specific job. As the graph below shows, income disparity on a per-occupation basis varies wildly – from 60% all the way to 107% (ProTip: women should consider careers in baking over sales)


The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics does provide finer grained comparisons by occupation, but the comparison remains based on median income and doesn’t account for differences across ranks, companies, or geographies.[3] For instance, both an entry-level software developer at a cash-poor start-up and a Distinguished Engineer at highly-profitable tech giant would be grouped into the same category. More on this in future posts, but suffice to say “just 78 cents” is certainly not “for doing the same job”.

Second, measuring the wage gap based on medians for broad categories understates the economic disparity between women and men in the US. The median gives you a narrow slice of wage earners without information about the higher wage earners who, for better or for worse, hold more power in the economy. And unfortunately, when I graphed it out, it’s the worst case scenario:us_income_by_gender_2013

Women’s incomes skew way low, and men are overrepresented in the top half of the spectrum.[4] Coupled with women’s lower workforce participation (44% of the US workforce[3]), women earn only 38% of the dollars earned in the US. That amounts to 61 cents for every dollar men earn – the 78 cents at median is deceptively high.

When we’re earning only 38% of the dollars, it’s no wonder policies on pay equity, reproductive rights and women’s access to capital rarely advance. It’s also a compounding problem: women are poorly represented in the top tiers of business, politics, and culture; to advance takes money in the form of investments and donations, and women have relatively little money to share compared with their male counterparts.

It’s lame. Next, I’ll consider how moving more women into tech-based occupations could impact the women’s economic disparity.

Stating the Obvious: Google Consumer Surveys finds more men than women in STEM

…and we’re back! Following my 2-month study-induced hiatus, I’m finally catching up with a bunch of posts I’ve wanted to write since the fall.

One of the upsides of working at Google is trying out cool new products. In particular, I weasled myself a coupon for Google Consumer Surveys, Google’s new shiny online platform for rapidly collecting user feedback. Google Consumer Surveys, in spite of its clunky name, is a surprisingly simple and elegant approach to data gathering that has the added bonus of potentially saving the publishing industry. Basically, people who want data can pay some money to site owners to pop up a one or two question survey for users to answer as an alternative for paying for content, like a magazine article. It’s also been praised by data-nerd guru Nate Silver as the second most accurate polling data source for the 2012 Presidential election.

The Question

Not being an expert pollster, I chose a pretty simple question: Have you ever considered a career in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) field?

The Insights

The first insight Google finds is completely obvious: “Men picked Am currently working in STEM more than women.”


Glad I used a coupon. The data is pretty clear: at all levels of STEM involvement, the gender stereotypes are well preserved. Sigh.

The other insights were not nearly as obvious. For instance, “Among men, those aged 35-44 picked No, have never considered STEM more than those aged 65+.” In fact, among men the 65+ crowd were the most likely to have considered a STEM career at some point.

My guess is that this is sampling bias. Older people are less likely to be tech savvy, and those who are have probably had some level of involvement or, at the very least, some interest in the sciences.

Another digital divide is also apparent: (sub)urban vs. rural. Rural respondents were much less likely to be working in high tech, and among respondents who haven’t worked in STEM, rural respondents were the most likely to have aspired to work in STEM. The results are particularly pronounced for women.



The challenges of getting into technology as a person living in a rural community comes up in an upcoming tech lady profile. Personally, I know far fewer people from rural communities in technology than women. So again, Google’s results capture this well.

Overall, the results weren’t really insightful, mostly just validated previous understandings of the disparities in STEM. But this is more due to the boringness of my question. What I really need is a better understanding of what to ask to get more meaningful information.

Any suggestions for questions? I’m back and I’ve got time to mess around with some data.


I am a terrible blogger

It’s been about a month since I last posted. It’s been very hectic – my team at Google launched a totally new product and I’ve been taking a grad course at Stanford in my non-existent spare time. As a result, I haven’t been making as much time for the blog as I had hoped. I’m especially eager to write up the most recent interview I did – she’s an amazing lady with a completely unique story that I can’t wait to tell. Luckily, she’s also extremely patient 🙂

In the meantime, I highly recommend checking out a series Google Developers Live team is presenting on Women Tech Entrepreneurs. You can see the previous recorded episodes, or login at 5:30pm EST Thursday and Friday to watch episodes live. So far, they haven’t received many live questions, so I’m sure they would appreciate your input. I’m amazed at how young some of these women are – and they’re running multimillion dollar businesses!

Lessons from the Grace Hopper Celebration

The following was posted by a colleague of mine, Astrid Atkinson, on her return from this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. I admire her a ton and hope to profile her for the blog sometime soon. For those of you unfamiliar with Grace Hopper Celebration (zOMG where have you been?!?!), it is one of the premier conferences for women in tech organized by the Anita Borg Institute. This year’s just wrapped up in Baltimore. Sadly, I could not attend, but Astrid and many other Googlers, including some very high ranking VPs, made it out.

Last week I was at the Grace Hopper conference for women in computing, in Baltimore. The conference itself was a really good experience – it’s always good to talk with other women in the industry, and I particularly enjoyed the chance to talk to women who are just starting out their careers in tech.

One of my vectors of interest for a conference like this is, of course, personal – the conference has a strand of sessions centered around women in leadership positions, which is great for professional development. But my greater interest is in driving change in the industry, and trying to figure out what kind of changes would be most helpful, both locally and globally.

One theme that stood out to me was the importance of providing entry points for women into the industry and into tech in general. I went to a great session given by +Jessica McKellar of the Boston Python Users’ Group, which went into detail on how they managed to drive participation of women in the group from 0% to 15%, and the short answer is – focused, beginner-level instruction aimed specifically at women, followed by whole-group project nights in which the new beginners could interact with and learn from the more experienced members of the community.

Once the women had an entry point into coding in python and the tech community, a lot of them stuck around to become active members of the user group, and some went on to become experts. How exciting is that? I was particularly struck by her description of the demographics of the people they brought in – a lot of the women who took the classes were older, some looking for ways to re-enter the industry after time away, others just looking to understand a little about coding.

Something which stood out – from Jessica’s talk, from the questions that people asked in panel sessions, and also from talking to new grads on the conference floor – was that the tech industry’s emphasis on elitism and lack of focus on mentoring and training is really off-putting to a lot of women who might otherwise be interested. It’s not easy to get from beginner-level to community participant all on your own, nor is it easy to get from new grad to experienced professional without help. The narrative around computer science often describes it as an individual pursuit, done in all-night redbull-fuelled coding benders. We also focus a lot on self-taught and non-academic success stories, to the extent that a lot of people in the industry will solemnly proclaim a computer science degree to be useless.

That narrative could not be further from the truth, and it creates a self-selecting profile for people who enter and remain in the industry which is very narrowly defined. This does a disservice to anyone who doesn’t fit the profile – many women, as well as quite a few men. The truth is that you don’t have to have been coding since you were eight to be a good engineer (or successful in any other technical role), nor will all potential success stories possess the blinding self-confidence for which we tend to select. A lot of potentially very good engineers will need to be supported, trained and mentored into true excellence. This doesn’t end in school – it’s true at all levels of industry.

Another thing that stood out was that a lot of technical women have a broad array of interests, of which many others (UI or UX, other sciences, etc) may well lead them into segments of the industry in which they’re less isolated (who wants to be the only woman in the room? It’s an incredibly intimidating situation to be in). The loss of these potential generalists is a loss to us all. We need the perspective that these women could bring, particularly in the segments of the industry which need to interact with users in the real world.

(There is also a subtle overlap between these categories, which is women with non-standard career trajectories. Not all women in tech are computer scientists, and those who are sometimes come in from unusual backgrounds, partly because it’s flat-out hard to survive the isolation of low female representation in the mainstream part of the industry. People in these situations tend to suffer from the industry class system in which there are coders and engineers, and then there’s everyone else. This isn’t doing us any favors, either.)

The last theme is the sad one, which is that the industry, and tech fields in general, are often flat-out awful to women. There’s still a lot of shockingly direct discrimination, and the simple experience of the current sad state of the gender balance (85/15 is the general industry-wide stat; in some fields, including mine, it’s as low as 5% women) means that most women will experience being the only woman on their team, the only woman in the room, sometimes the only woman in their entire office or company, which leads to both isolation and dysfunction. While we can’t fix the isolation problem directly, we could be doing a much better job of stamping out the dysfunction – which starts with things like supporting female colleagues and employees, and directly calling out bad behavior as it comes up.

I guess the single biggest theme, if I was going to sum up the things we should probably try to change, is “Don’t be a dick.” (haha, yes, I’m funny.) If we did a better job of supporting and mentoring, and were nicer and each better able to recognize the value of contributions which don’t look exactly like our own, then attracting and retaining more women – and more people – wouldn’t be such a challenge.

(Actionable? Not terribly. However, the part about the importance of training programs is one which I will take home and try to do something about, and the part about supporting female colleagues and employees is one that I try to do every day.)

Internships at teh GOOG

Most CS/engineering students know about Google’s internship programs. BUT! Did you realize they have a special internship program for 2nd year university students (aka “College Sophomores”)? Indeed, Google runs the Engineering Practicum program to specifically target young university students, especially “those who are historically underrepresented in the field” – that means YOU, ladies! Like having three stalls to yourself every time you go to the bathroom at Google, this is one of the rare times you get the long end of the stick. So take it!

If you or someone you know would be a good fit, it’s time to apply. The deadline is October 15th. Your’s truly hosted 3 BOLD (that’s what the program was called way back then) interns two summers back, and it was a fantastic experience for both hosts and interns. All of the students we hosted got offers to come back, and all accepted, which should show you how fun and awesome it can be.

Apply today!

Priya Gupta: Dr. Laser All-Star

Priya Gupta: Doctor of Lasers

IIT Bombay graduate. Doctor of Lasers. New mom. Google spouse.

Okay the Google spouse thing isn’t in itself cool, but that’s how I met Priya. Within minutes of meeting Priya three years ago, I wanted to be her friend. She’s a tech lady in the hardcore-est of ways: a Doctor of Lasers. LASERS, people. For those of you unfamiliar with lasers, consider that, unlike many areas of tech, Priya’s day to day work typically involves tools that can burn your fingers off or cause you to go blind. There are few engineers that venture into lasers, and even fewer who are women (<10% in the field, by Priya’s estimates). Fortunately, Priya is used to being the odd non-man out.

Priya’s engineering career started in late high school. Before that, she wanted to become a medical doctor, but that would have required her to drop math midway through school. Nonplussed about stopping math, Priya decided engineering would be a better fit: “I just knew I wanted to work with lasers”. She focused on getting to IIT, the most prestigious school in India and has possibly the most competitive entrance standards. Coming from an all-girls school, it wasn’t until Priya started college at IIT that she noticed anything unusual. In her words: “I was the martian coming in; only girl in a class of 19. There were lots of stares”. When asked if she felt intimidated, it sure doesn’t seem like it: “I intimidated the guys”.

Right on, girl.

In addition to the usual challenges of getting into the world’s most competitive engineering school, Priya had to contend with a family that was less than enthused about her plan. Coming from a conservative family where arranged marriages were the norm, Priya’s family worried that going to IIT would make her “too educated”. “I was already too tall”, she points out. And in the words of one of her aunts: “She’ll be 22 – who will want to marry her then?!”. Fortunately, her parents were supportive, and ran effective defense.

Priya made it to IIT Bombay out of hundreds of thousands of applicants. She entered the Engineering Physics B. Tech program, and of the 420 students admitted to IIT Bombay that year, Priya says about 20 of them were women – less than 5%. What’s more, in Priya’s experience about half of the men in her class had never interacted with a woman their own age. As a result, Priya dealt with a lot of awkwardness, even by typical women in tech standards: “I was excluded from social outings because the guys felt they couldn’t behave in a relaxed way with a woman present”. Even worse, there was a classmate who developed an obsession with her. Priya documented the harassment, submitting emails to the dean, who in turn took action against the harasser. While this resolved the harassment, Priya feels that many of the guys in her class blindly sided with the creepy guy.

Undeterred, Priya graduated with her B. Tech and turned her sights to the US, which was the natural career path for students looking to work in research. Priya chose the PhD program at Rice University in Houston and was the first member of her whole family to move to the US. Initially, she was concerned that the gender imbalance at Rice would mean similar issues with her male colleagues to what she faced at IIT. The guys she worked with turned out to be completely respectful. What’s more, she met a handsome American gentleman at Rice who persuaded Priya to marry him over the course of 5 or 6 years (sources on the timeline differ). Probably not what the aunties back in India had in mind, but at least they found a match for the tall over-educated girl.

Priya has faced additional challenges since graduating from Rice. In her first job, she was routed into a marketing position even though she was clear that she wanted a research position. She was pressured by the employer to try out marketing anyways, and she wound up being very successful in the role. Regardless of her success, Priya wanted a research job, and she eventually found a startup building analysis tools for greenhouse gases: “I was employee #15 and I loved it! I was happy to be doing research”. The role was exactly what Priya wanted – she worked on the company’s new signature product that increased company sales by two orders of magnitude. “Customers were very happy”, Priya says proudly. But organizationally, the company was a disaster. As the company grew, Priya says that she felt more and more marginalized: “I was the only female in science or research, I was also 10 years younger than everyone”. When I asked her why she put up with it, she confessed: “I should have left, but I’m not a quitter, and I was emotionally attached to the product”. Priya did her best to handle the harassment effectively through HR, but says they discouraged her from making any complaints that would require serious legal action. She focused on her technical work for a few more months, and was eventually laid off with a good severance package. She admits she could have taken the dismissal to court, but the effort and the potential damage to her career was not worth the potential money she could have won.

Since leaving her last company over 2 years ago, Priya has not gone back to work full-time,. She and her husband Ben had their first child, Rahi, and Priya has taken this time to reevaluate what she wants out of her career. She certainly has no shortage of options as she has had a consistent stream of job offers since leaving her previous company, and recently had a part time contract job at an early-stage start up. As a mom in the Bay Area, she’s found that she finally has a chance to meet a lot of other technical women: “I know so many other moms, and the Bay Area is a really cool place where the moms are lawyers or scientists”. Right now, Priya is enjoying motherhood and plans on doing so for another few years before returning to the work force. Originally, this made her nervous: “who’s going to hire me after being away 5 years?”. But she has since seen several colleagues (men, actually) take similar breaks and come back to work without any problems. While Priya has faced some tough challenges in her career, they are challenges that many women will face some point in their careers. In Priya’s case, her choice to work in tech has given her the power to work elsewhere under terms of her own choosing.

On a much lighter note, what’s playing at Priya’s dance party? “Desi Girl”*, of course.

*Desi: Slang term for the people, cultures, and products of the Indian subcontinent or South Asia and, increasingly, to the people, cultures, and products of their diaspora [Wikipedia]

Waiting for the first tech lady sitcom

Given the current rage of workplace-based comedies (The Office, Parks & Rec, 30 Rock, etc), I keep waiting for there to be a sitcom about a tech company. And of course, I would expect it to include if not focus on some fabulous tech ladies, preferably all of {Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Sarah Silverman, Rachel Dratch, Mindy Kaling, Margaret Cho}.

At this point you may be saying “Hey tehMLE! Haven’t you heard?  There’s some movie in production that explores the world of tech! From the comedy genius behind Wedding Crashers and Fred Claus!” Once I finish rolling my eyes at you, I will point out that, though technically about “Tech”, the movie in question is unlikely to be much of a comedy, and certainly not of the caliber I’m looking for.

In the meantime, I have discovered The Mindy Project, for which I will do some shameless (though as yet unsponsored) buzz marketing. The show is great, and not just because Mindy reminds me very much of a close friend whose All-Star profile is in the works. Mindy plays a smart, capable Indian-American doctor who has an overly dramatic personal life. There are, in fact, many women I have studied and worked with in my career who fit this profile (not necessarily Indian, though). Thus far, The Mindy Project comes the closest to my dream sitcom, especially since the show’s soundtrack is very in line with my personal dance parties.

Check out the trailer.

Liz Kennedy: An Original All-Star

When a colleague of mine mentioned that his mother was a programmer in the 60’s, my brain could not compute. Like most children of the 80’s, my understanding of the 60’s is largely based on watching Mad Men. How is it possible that there were women programmers then? Was it hard finding time to program between preparing martinis for your boss and his mistresses? Or, shockingly, has TV led me astray and the 60’s weren’t all cigarettes and sexual harassment?

According to Liz Kennedy, it’s somewhere in between.

Liz Kennedy

Liz Kennedy: An Original All-Star

Liz Kennedy got into programming in an age when women didn’t study CS in school, largely because such programs didn’t exist. As an undergraduate student at Agnes Scott College, a liberal arts college for women in Atlanta, she studied Chemistry and eventually Math in order to secure a job in “Scientific Programming”, a kind of early-day Intro to CS. Although neither of her parents worked in computing, she was always drawn to how specific math is. Liz credits a high school math teacher in particular for guiding her: “she expected as much from the women as the men, so it wasn’t a big deal”.

Fresh out of school, Liz had the choice of working in education, a sector that offered a reliable career track for a woman, or venture into industry, where there were few women, particularly on the most interesting and technically challenging projects. Liz had a clear goal from the start: “I wanted something challenging to work on”. She started work as an Associate Aircraft Engineer at Lockheed Georgia, an aircraft manufacturer that eventually merged into Lockheed Martin. There, she programmed loads analyses for Lockheed’s C-130, C-141 and C5A, which were cutting-edge military aircraft. From the outset, there were challenges. Liz earned $4/week less than the men who started along side her – and that was just how it was. When she asked her boss whether Lockheed had any programming openings for a college friend of her’s, her boss’ only question was “What kind of figure does she have?”. And naturally, the maternity leave policy was, astoundingly, even worse than contemporary American maternity leave: “Lockheed had a policy for 6 month pregnant women to quit”.

The C-130: Just another day at the office for Liz

After leaving industry for over 14 years while she raised her 2 boys at home, Liz returned to an industry that had changed a lot but remained fundamentally the same: “the languages and technologies were different, but the logic was the same”. Similarly, while there had been progress in women’s rights, the tech industry was still hostile towards women. At one of her first jobs after returning, she struggled to define her work as more than “a glorified secretary”. Rather than resigning herself to the menial tasks she was given, she applied programming principles to redundant office tasks and took on tasks outside of what her boss gave her. She stayed in the job only as long as she felt she had to to avoid a blemish on her resume. She eventually joined Computer Sciences Corp., where she worked on a project for Amtrak’s Northeastern Corridor to provide real-time information on train location and movement, which dramatically improved safety by preventing collisions. The project lasted 3 years and allowed Liz to prove her technical competency to her colleagues. As a result, she was promoted into management, where she continued to increase the scope of her work. Over the following 25 years Liz worked in senior management positions for 4 other companies providing technical development and support. At peak, she managed 180 people, and according to Liz, her pay is now consistent with the men working at her level. Though technically retired now, Liz is regularly offered contracts to manage large engineering projects. In an economy where its common for workers in their 50s and 60s to be forced into early retirement, this truly speaks to the reputation Liz has earned for herself in what was once an industry that eschewed women entirely.

Although Liz started her career in a very different climate from the women starting out today, I think her guiding principles remain just as relevant: “Keep your goal in sight, figure out what you need to do, and be flexible about how you get there”. In attempting to figure out how I will balance having a family with the increasing demands of my job, this advice really speaks to me. In an age where women disappeared out of industry to have kids and almost never returned, Liz came back and continued an upward trajectory to reach an elite level that few in her field ever reach, regardless of gender. Her experience is also evidence that women, no matter how experienced, often continue to face discrimination. Even in recent years, Liz has had colleagues question her abilities because of her gender. In one incident, a man was concerned that Liz would be too busy with her grandchildren to finish her contract, though he lacked any concern for the granddads working on the project. With confidence, Liz will find a way to resolve the issue while saving face for her misguided colleague. This can mean waiting until there’s an occasion to speak privately to the offender, or giving yourself enough time to calm down and present your case in a more friendly manner. “Pick what matters to you, let the rest go”.

Amen, Liz – amen.

This is certainly a career for all of us to celebrate. In the words of Chubby Checker, Let’s do the Twist!